Are you planning a road trip? Whether this is alone, as a couple, or with your family, it can be an exciting travel experience. The beauty of the open road stretches out ahead of you and it’s a chance to see so many new things.
It’s always good to prepare for a trip like this – especially if it’s your first one. There will be a lot of driving on long busy highways, which can be a bit intimidating. Some of you may have never driven on a highway before, while others have. But, have you driven for hours throughout the day on these massive roads?
Probably not, which is why we’ve got a few top tips for highway driving during your road trip:
Check your car before you set off
It’s always good to get a road trip car check before you set off on your journey. Book your vehicle in for servicing to be sure it’s ready for a long drive. You never know what hidden problems are ready to jump out at you midway down the highway!
This check gives you peace of mind as you know your car is healthy and shouldn’t see any major faults. As long as you drive responsibly, you’ll get there in one piece.
Plan your route
The second thing to do is plan your route. Look online and plot out the best route to get from A to B.
The best route isn’t always the quickest one. If you’re a nervous driver and haven’t traversed these big roads before, look for routes that give you simple roads. Driving in a straight line for miles is easier than needing to constantly pull off at different exits. Yes, it’s longer, but it’s way less stressful.
Similarly, look for rest stops or rest areas. They give you a chance to pull in and have a break while also topping up your tank or recharging an electric battery. To help you out, there’s a map with all the rest areas on here that you can look at.
Alternatively, if you’re driving an electric car, here’s a list of all available charging stations.
Understand the lanes
Highways will have multiple lanes. The exact number depends on the road, but it will usually be between 2-4 lanes. This is usually what frightens most people when they drive on a large road for the first time. Which lane should you be in?
Typically, the lanes are categorized as such:
- Passing lanes
- Travel lanes
Passing lanes are on the inside, while the travel lane is typically the further one on the right. This is the slowest moving lane as people stay in it when they’re getting ready to pull off at an exit. For your first few journeys, it’s good to stay in this lane. You won’t miss your exit and you don’t have to go as fast.
The inside lanes are for people overtaking and going really fast. Once you gain some confidence, you could move into one of these when you know there’s a long journey before your exit. Just be sure you move over to the right-hand lane with more than enough time to pull off the highway.
Be extra cautious around trucks and motorcycles
Truck drivers and motorcyclists are the biggest risks on a highway. The main problems are the speed of the motorcycles, how they can easily enter your blind spot, and the limited vision truck drivers have while on the road.
Whenever you go to change lanes, check your mirrors, check your blind spot, and then check again. Look for any signs of a motorcyclist near you. Even if they’re in the distance, save your lane change until they pass you. You don’t want to risk turning and seeing them flying out of nowhere.
If you are behind a truck, make sure you fall back more than you would when following a car. When you get too close to the back of a large truck, the driver will no longer be able to see you. Speak to any truck accident lawyer and they’ll tell you that most truck accidents are caused by this. A car enters the trucker’s blind spot and tries to overtake. The trucker doesn’t see them and might swerve slightly, causing an accident. They’ll get the legal blame for it, but it’s technically your fault. Drop back at least 2-3 seconds behind so they have a full field of view. This means they see you making an overtake and can slow down to let you pass safely.
Driving with these vehicles on the road can be scary at first, but you quickly get used to it and understand how to behave around them.
Rest when you start getting tired
Driving while tired is almost as bad as driving while intoxicated. Your reaction time decreases and you can easily cause fatal accidents. The moment you feel your focus going or your eyes getting heavy, plan to stop in the nearest safe place.
Ideally, you should plan your route to have rest areas every 2 hours or so along the journey. This gives you time to stretch your legs, have a rest, or get something to make you more energized. If you have to sleep in your car overnight or stay in a hotel, then do it. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it when you consider the alternative.
Make use of cruise control
Most modern vehicles have a cruise control function that’s highly useful during highway road trips. Instead of needing to focus on the throttle and maintain the right speed, this feature does it for you.
Get up to your desired speed, set the cruise control, and it’ll keep driving at this pace until you intervene. It’s not auto-pilot, so you still have to focus on what’s ahead of you, but it does take some strain out of the driving experience.
We urge you to follow these tips if you’ve got a road trip planned. There are so many amazing road trip destinations out there – it’d be a shame if you didn’t enjoy yourself for the whole trip. Once you ease yourself into highway driving, it comes naturally. After the first day or two, you’ll feel more confident and there’ll be nothing to worry about!